Journey to recovery after natural disasters

It’s been a wet and difficult start to the summer, and countless Queenslanders across the state have already been impacted by severe storms, cyclones and flooding.

While many communities are now in recovery, others are keeping a close eye on forecasts and are preparing for more wild weather as predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology.

The RTA understands how challenging it can be when your home is damaged or destroyed, and how overwhelming it can be to figure out what happens next.

Depending on where you are in your recovery efforts, we have many resources on natural disasters that can help.

My property is in a community where severe weather is forecast

If your property is within a cyclone watch area or severe weather is forecast, there are several things you can do to prepare. It’s most important that you stay informed and prepare an emergency kit and plan to stay safe. Get Ready Queensland provide detailed information on how to prepare your property and stay safe when a cyclone or severe weather is on the way.

My property has been impacted, and I don’t know where to start

Our Step-by-step guide for tenants impacted by natural disasters explains what you and the property manager/owner need to consider once the natural disaster has passed.

If the damage isn't significant, you or the property manager/owner can do an informal assessment of the property individually or together. Remember, safety is a priority in any assessment. If the damage is significant, it may need to be assessed by a qualified tradesperson to determine if the property remains liveable.

My property is unliveable

If your property has been assessed as unliveable, you’ll need to come to an agreement with the property manager/owner about whether to either: end the tenancy agreement; continue living at the property while repairs are carried out (if it’s safe to do so); or leave the property temporarily until repairs are complete. If you are continuing in the tenancy, you may be able to request a rent decrease until the repairs are complete.

My property needs repairs

Damage caused by natural disasters may require an emergency repair (for example, repair to a roof). Additionally, new minimum housing standards came into effect for new tenancies (including renewed tenancy agreements) from 1 September 2023 that may also need to be considered when organising repairs. These standards will apply to all remaining tenancies from 1 September 2024. The property manager/owner may need to arrange access with tradespeople to carryout repairs or quotes.

Natural disasters often mean increased demands on property managers/owners, insurers, tradespeople, and services. While it can be a stressful period, we recommend all parties communicate openly and respectfully. Keep in mind, outcomes on when and how something is being fixed may rely on conversations and decisions by insurers and tradespeople. Property managers/owners are encouraged to keep tenants informed along the way with any updates.

My property has green debris that needs to be removed

Tenants are typically responsible for garden maintenance and keeping the property in the same condition when the tenancy started, keeping it tidy and free from damage. Tenants are generally responsible for removing small fallen branches and loose garden or leaf debris that could block gutters or drains. However, if the damage is extensive following a natural disaster (for example, a large tree has fallen) this may be the responsibility of the property manager/owner. Depending on the situation, some local councils may assist to clear large green debris, particularly if it blocks streets or footpaths.

My property has mould

If you find mould in your rental property, it’s important to notify the property manager/owner as soon as possible to discuss next steps. If the mould appeared following the natural disaster, the property manager/owner is responsible for addressing it and making any necessary repairs to the property. Tenants are responsible for cleaning their own furniture and possessions. For more information, listen to our podcast episode on How to deal with mould.

I’m unable to reach an agreement with my property manager/owner

Remember, safety and good communication is paramount when a natural disaster occurs. If you’re unable to reach an agreement for next steps regarding your tenancy, our free dispute resolution service may be able to help. Our conciliators are impartial and help parties to make informed decisions and reach a mutually acceptable outcome without the need for legal action.

If you cannot reach a mutually acceptable agreement, you may be able to apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a repair order.

Original publication on 24 Jan 2024
Last updated on 24 Jan 2024

Note: While the RTA makes every reasonable effort to ensure that information on this website is accurate at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after publication may impact on the accuracy of material. This disclaimer is in addition to and does not limit the application of the Residential Tenancies Authority website disclaimer.